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Happy Hour

Elizabeth Strout meets Marian Keyes in this wonderful, joyful, funny debut novel from Australian author Jacquie Byron.

Growing older doesn't necessarily mean growing wiser.

Gin in one hand, paintbrush in the other, Franny Calderwood has turned her back on the world, or at least the world she used to love. Having lost her husband, Frank, in tragic circumstances three years earlier, 65-year-old Franny copes the only way she knows how: by removing herself completely from the life she had before. Franny lives a life of decadent seclusion, with only her two dogs, Whisky and Soda, a stuffed cat, cocktails and the memory of Frank for company.

Then the Salernos move in next door. The troubled but charming trio - beleaguered mother Sallyanne, angry teenager Dee and eccentric eight-year-old Josh - cannot help but pull Franny into the drama of their lives. But despite her air of independence, Franny's wisecracks and foodie obsessions hide considerable trauma and pain, and when her eccentric behaviour has life-threatening consequences she faces a reckoning of sorts. Yes, Frank is dead, but did the woman he loved have to perish with him?

A love story about one woman, two dogs, and the family next door, Happy Hour is a hilarious and uplifting insight into grief, loss and friendship.
RRP $32.99
$24.99
or 4 payments of $6.25 with Learn more
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PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Title: Happy Hour
  • Author: Jacquie Byron
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • ISBN: 9781761065132
  • Length: 234.0 millimetre
  • Width: 153.0 millimetre
  • Languages: English
  • Format: PaperBack
  • Category: General Fiction
  • Publication Date: 31/08/2021
  • Pages: 352

RATINGS & REVIEW

12/08/2021 5:44:14 PM - Marianne
Funny, moving and thought-provoking, this is an impressive debut.
“Frank was the really social one, the one who loved a crowd. I just went along for the ride. I liked the show, his show. No, listening to other people bleat about him now, needing me to comfort them, sitting through their anecdotes… pure torture” Happy Hour is the first novel by Australian author, Jacquie Byron. Three years widowed, Franny Calderwood keeps social interactions to a minimum. She accepts that Frank is dead, although that’s no reason to stop talking to him, addressing the many photos of him spread through their house, sharing the small details of her day. She keeps busy with chores, visits to book shops, the cinema, galleries, the ballet, to gardens and the zoo for material to paint, a regular lunch at a favourite restaurant; Franny cooks herself gourmet meals and allows herself a cocktail or a wine in the evening; the company of her Cairn terrier, Whisky, and her golden retriever, Soda is quite enough. Those who knew Frank invariably react to her with sorrow, pitying looks and melodramatic sighs, something that threatens to undo her, something she wants to avoid. Wayne at the liquor store, though, she appreciates: “He’d arrived in the bottle shop a year after Frank’s death, so he never asked about her home life or ‘how she was coping’. He saw her as an entity unto herself, not the remaining half of a once fine pair.” Now, though, a family of three: mother, teenaged daughter and eight-year-old son, moves in next door and, despite her reclusive tendencies, she inexplicably finds herself admitting them into her life. Franny finds she has something to offer each of them and that, surprisingly, she enjoys their company. Not until her annual meltdown, when an accident means she really needs the friends who know her best, is it brought home to her that, in her avoidance of those who knew them as a couple, she has rejected family, her closest friend, and her goddaughter, never considering how hurtful her repeated evasions would be. Byron’s tale examines grief, blame and forgiveness, reclusiveness and loneliness, and does it with humour and sensitivity. Her characters have depth and appeal, displaying very human flaws and, in Franny’s case, occasionally disappointing the reader with poor behaviour. Her inner monologue is often darkly funny. The support characters will charm, and Joshie, in particular, is a delight. The dialogue is natural and Byron endows Franny’s best friend with wise words indeed: “No one can criticise the way someone else handles grief.” Funny, moving and thought-provoking, this is an impressive debut. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen & Unwin
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